It’s nights like these that make you wonder how the Premier League gets away with it. The top flight’s Friday live slate rarely captures the imagination, but this clash between the league’s bottom two looks the most unappealing prospect on paper since [insert your own Brexit joke here].
That said, nobody expected a nine-goal thriller when Southampton hosted Leicester, and this early six-pointer does have the potential to be eminently watchable. Despite both being odds-on for the drop, these two teams are still capable of playing fluid, intelligent attacking football when everything clicks.
Unfortunately, both are also waist-deep in existential crises, weeks spent in the bottom three eroding their sense of identity. Watford brought in Quique Sánchez Flores to tighten up their defence, and have scored two goals in their last six league games. As for Norwich, well, they’ll always have Manchester City.
Since that statement win, Daniel Farke’s side have lost to a host of mid-table teams (Brighton, Burnley, Palace, Villa, United) without putting up much of a fight. Like his opposite number, Farke is caught between sticking to his team’s attacking ideals and buckling down for a dogfight, and is currently doing neither well.
As a result, all bets are off tonight. We might get a feast of attacking flair, or a buffet of defensive howlers. Either team could conceivably do what Leicester did, and turn what looks a tight contest into a shooting gallery. Who knows, maybe Elton or Delia will feel compelled to intervene – and maybe the Man know’s what he’s doing after all.
Kick-off: 8pm GMT. Team news and buildup to follow …